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A culture of competitiveness

By Dave Adkisson

The change and challenges Kentucky and the United States have experienced over the past 15 years are significant and, in many cases, unprecedented.

Transformational forces such as globalization, fueled by advances in technology, have reshaped the foundation of competitiveness for both people and places. The recovery from the Great Recession has been uneven, and many of our citizens have no clear path to prosperity. We all want better – and to get there we must engage more Kentuckians to push together toward common goals.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce had a new reality in mind when we began several months ago to develop a vision for our commonwealth. Since then, we have had numerous conversations with business, civic and political leaders; surveyed our members about issues that affect their ability to succeed; conducted research about our current status; and identified trends that are affecting our state.

All of this has led to development and release of our “Four Pillars for Prosperity: Creating a Kentucky Culture of Competitiveness.” The “Four Pillars” report sets forth a vision that will build toward prosperity on the community and statewide levels. It suggests a new focus on the issues that influence our economy and on the actions that will chart a path toward success.

We know that delivering on a commitment to competing to win – not just maintaining our current position – will require difficult, demanding work. But we believe it is critical to the future of our state that we make that commitment and do what must be done to push us forward.

Here’s a closer look at the “Four Pillars for Prosperity.”

Workforce: Creating a globally competitive talent-development system that produces a healthy and skilled workforce, benchmarked against the best education and workforce preparation systems in the world

Government: Creating and sustaining a state government that is financially stable and creates a competitive environment for economic growth

Infrastructure: Creating and maintaining a modern infrastructure to capitalize on the state’s strategic advances and to advance its energy agenda

Jobs: Creating and implementing an economic development program that recognizes the potential of Kentucky’s distinct regions and industry sectors, and encourages and rewards entrepreneurship and innovation.

The pillars, in turn, encompass more than 50 building blocks that represent the specific progress Kentucky must make to ensure a prosperous future. These building blocks are substantial. Among those included under Workforce, for example, are ensuring high-quality teaching in every classroom, expanding the research advancements of our universities and, on the health side, passing smoke-free legislation.

We call for a comprehensive management review of state government operations to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and for public pension system reforms. Success in infrastructure development will mean more public-private partnerships on capital projects and wider broadband availability. And moving ahead on jobs will require strategic actions to support industry sectors and continued growth in exports.

Ongoing measurements will be critical to ensuring transparency about progress and helping our policymakers and civic leaders understand competitiveness issues. The Kentucky Chamber will monitor key indicators under every pillar, making them available 24/7 through an online dashboard and reporting regularly on what they are telling us.

We hope you will take a look at our full report, which can be found at kychamber.com/4pillars, and will join us in this effort to create a culture of competitiveness to ensure the future prosperity of our state.

Dave Adkisson is president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce